Wednesday, February 1, 2012

SIU President's Salary, Then and Now (1925-2010)

Long ago, the University Archive of Morris Library photocopied for me the Great Depression reports of the Southern Normal president and the Board of Trustees, 1929-1942. I was looking them over as I prepare lectures for my "Great Depression" course (HIST 364).

Each year they listed "annual salaries," including that of President Henry W. Shryock. For trivia purposes, he earned $7,500 in 1925. According to the "How Much is that Worth" calculator, the venerable President earned the following in 2010 dollars:

If you want to compare the value of a $7500 Income or Wealth , in 1925 . . .

economic status value of that income or wealth is $449,000.00
economic power value of that income or wealth is $1,200,000.00

And, if you wonder how you compare with the world, check out the Global Rich List. Turns out I'm in the top 1% of the world's income earners. (It only takes $50K to make the top 1%).

FYI.



7 comments:

pkd said...

The Americans who complain about the 1% need check out the Global Rich List. Maybe the SIU faculty should, too.

Anonymous said...

Why are you chosing to display only the highest numbers?

Why not put in some other context, like that the president earned two to three times as much as a history professor or six to seven times as much as a janitor?

Jonathan Bean said...

I chose the higher numbers because they better reflect the growth of wages over time. See the web site for a detailed description of when to use one or the other index.

Jonathan Bean said...

PS: I'm comparing a college president with a college president at the same institution. Why relate to a janitor's wage? Unless you buy the E.F. Schumacher school of thought that inequality is bad and the top man or woman shouldn't make more than seven times the lowest paid worker.

Jonathan Bean said...

Actually, the best set of numbers would be the last pairing (the highest of them all).

It would be interesting to know post-tax inequality over time. Did Shyrock pay lower or higher tax rate than Poshard? Actually, I looked it up and Poshard would fall in the 38% (federal and state) marginal tax rate. Shyrock (1925) at the 3% federal marginal tax rate (Illinois tax rate in 1925 unknown although I will look). SOURCE: http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/151.html

Anonymous said...

The staus number implicitly compares the president's pay to other people's pay.

"(7) Economic Status measures a subject (income or wealth) relative to a wage or more general income, such as the wage rate of workers in manufacturing or per-capita GDP. Note that the specific measures are identical to those in measure (3) above, but the kinds of subjects differ."

Why is the last number, someone's income as a percent of the country's GDP, the best pairing? My intitial thought is that the GDP number is complicated by the problem that home production isn't included in GDP but presumably has been declining over time.

The last part, after-tax income, is maddeningly difficult to know. On the low end of the income scale, there are government programs. At the high end of the income scale, there are tax breaks and loopholes. It's hard to put that together just in today's dollars with today's government policies.

Jonathan Bean said...

OK, I could get (and do in class) into a long discussion of the limitations of GDP as a measure (household production, etc) but it's still the best we've got. And in this case the order of MAGNITUDE is so great in terms of real income and tax rates that there is no way a wage earner can get their rate from 38% to 3% and most workers in that range have SSA tax too! A corporation or nonworking rich have many more loopholes.

It's all moot in my mind, because I have no problem with inequality. But that discussion is extended and way beyond this quick FYI trivia about SIU!